Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This time the crocodile won't wait

By Aussiegirl

On May 12 I posted an article from TCSDaily.com entitled The Making of Londonistan -- my post you can read here, and the TCSDaily article you can read here. Today I'm posting an excellent review of this book by the always-readable Spengler. Here is his gloomy but realistic concluding paragraph: In that sense Melanie Phillips' book comes too late, for it reports a set of circumstances shortly to be overthrown by events. She is writing about 1938, and we are entering 1939, when the West will have to respond to an external challenge in a way that it never could to an internal threat. Britain will have the religious war it sought to dodge.

Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy.

This time the crocodile won't wait
Londonistan by Melanie Phillips

Reviewed by Spengler

In retrospect, it seems oafish of Neville Chamberlain, Britain's prime minister in 1938, to have betrayed Czechoslovakia to Nazi rule in return for the empty promise of peace. Yet an overwhelming English majority looked with horror on the prospect of confrontation with Germany and a new world war, until Adolf Hitler forced England's hand by invading Poland. "The appeaser hopes the crocodile will eat him last," said Winston Churchill. Today's crocodiles may not be so patient.

Opposing voices in 1938 rang lonely and shrill, and just as shrill today sounds Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips in her portrayal of an emasculated Britain ashamed of its own national identity and anxious to appease the "clerical fascism" of the jihadis. That will change, perhaps even before the print is quite dry on her new book. She warns that the West faces a religious war with Islam. I concur, and recommend Londonistan as indispensable background.

Britain, Phillips warns, is reaping what it has sown. A large minority of British Muslims are disaffected at best and seditious at worst. Phillips cites a 2004 Home Office survey finding that 26% of British Muslims felt no loyalty to Britain, 13% supported terrorism, and about 1% (up to 20,000 individuals) were "actively engaged" in terrorism or support for terrorism.

Another poll found that 32% of British Muslims agreed that "Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end". In the event of a violent collision between the West and Iran, for example, civil conflict might arise in Britain on a scale resembling that in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.[....]

But that can explain only part of the story, and Phillips searches for deeper causes of Britain's cowardice. "Denial" is a recurrent theme. She cites an unnamed "foreign intelligence source" as follows:
During the 1990s, many attempts were made to enlighten the British about what was happening. But they refused to see this problem as having a religious character. If this was a religious problem, it became a religious confrontation - and the specter of a religious war was too horrendous. A religious war is different from any other war because you are dealing with absolute beliefs and the room for compromise is very limited. Religious wars are very protracted and bloody, and often end up with a very high toll of lives.
That is not denial, though, but revulsion. The British establishment may have recoiled in horror from the prospect of religious war precisely because it has sufficient institutional memory to know just what such wars entail. Religious war, however, is precisely what it will have, on the worst possible terms, and with an extensive fifth column in place. [....]

Phillips soft-pedals the imperial sins for which today's problems are part payment. As Phillips observes, the legacy of Britain's imperial past in the form of Northern Ireland distracted the security services' attention from the Islamist threat:
Instead of studying the Middle East as a cause for concern, they were staring across the Irish Sea at Northern Ireland, where a terrorist insurrection against the UK had been in progress since the 1970s. The mindset, on both sides of the Atlantic, was that terrorism was tied to discrete grievances against individual states. And with the end of the Cold War, the notion of a global threat rooted in ideology was assumed to be dead and buried.
But the Northern Ireland disaster was more than a distraction. Britain has a glorious past, and its role in defining individual rights and representative democracy is central to the success of the West. But real crimes can be laid at Britain's doorstep, including the mistreatment of the Irish over centuries. That does not excuse the thuggishness of the Irish Republicans, but it does help explain the moral palsy that afflicts today's British establishment. [....]

In any case, Western liberalism, including the sexual habits of English curates, does not appeal to Muslims. On the contrary, Phillips says:
British Muslims are overwhelmingly horrified and disgusted by the louche and dissolute behavior of a Britain that has torn up the notion of respectability. They observe the alcoholism, drug abuse and pornography, the breakdown of family life and the encouragement of promiscuity, and find themselves there in opposition to their host society's guiding values. What they are recoiling from, of course, is the breakdown of Western values. After a visit to the United States in 1948, Sayed Qutb wrote: "Humanity today is living in a large brothel!"
Revulsion and contempt color Muslim attitudes toward the British leftists who most desire to appease them. That is not a recipe for co-existence but for escalation, as last year's subway bombings should have made clear. But the issue now is not terrorism but rather outright war.

The British authorities may have turned a blind eye to terrorism directed against others, and may even have dragged their feet at confronting the terrorist threat at home that erupted in the July 7, 2005, subway bombings. Terrorism is dreadful but, like many nasty things, one can develop a tolerance for it. Now it is not merely terrorism that the West confronts but a strategic debacle of intolerable proportions in the form of Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons.

In that sense Melanie Phillips' book comes too late, for it reports a set of circumstances shortly to be overthrown by events. She is writing about 1938, and we are entering 1939, when the West will have to respond to an external challenge in a way that it never could to an internal threat. Britain will have the religious war it sought to dodge.

The Last Day of the World

By Aussiegirl

A horrific description of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 brought about by "The Religion of Peace". The two main reasons for the fall that Spencer cites, realpolitik and disunity, are certainly still in play today. And it's also true, to quote Spencer, that the world persists in the fantasy that Islam does not contain an imperialist impulse and that Muslims can be admitted without limit into Western countries without any attempt to determine how many would like ultimately to subjugate and Islamize their new countries, the way their forefathers did to Constantinople so long ago. How often must the West learn the same lesson!

The Last Day of the World

The Last Day of the World
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 31, 2006

As the E.U., U.N. and U.S. contrive to fund the Palestinian Authority despite declarations that they would never aid Hamas; as the Russians rush to aid Iran’s nuclear ambitions; and as America is ever more riven by furious disagreement over the prosecution of the terror war, a historical analogy is useful to put things in perspective.

On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the armies of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II entered Constantinople, breaking through the defenses of a vastly outnumbered and indomitably courageous Byzantine force. Historian Steven Runciman notes what happened next: the Muslim soldiers "slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn. But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged. The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profit." (The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.)

It has come to be known as Black Tuesday, the Last Day of the World.

Some jihadists "made for the the small but splendid churches by the walls, Saint George by the Charisian Gate, Saint John in Petra, and the lovely church of the monastery of the Holy Saviour in Chora, to strip them of their stores of plate and their vestments and everything else that could be torn from them. In the Chora they left the mosaics and frescoes, but they destroyed the icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria, the holiest picture in all Byzantium, painted, so men said, by Saint Luke himself. It had been taken there from its own church beside the Palace at the beginning of the siege, that its beneficient presence might be at hand to inspire the defenders on the walls. It was taken from its setting and hacked into four pieces." (P. 146.)

The jihadists also entered the Hagia Sophia, which for nearly a thousand years had been the grandest church in Christendom. The faithful had gathered within its hallowed walls to pray during the city’s last agony. The Muslims, according to Runciman, halted the celebration of Orthros (morning prayer); the priests, according to legend, took the sacred vessels and disappeared into the cathedral’s eastern wall, through which they shall return to complete the divine service one day. Muslim men then killed the elderly and weak and led the rest off into slavery.

Once the Muslims had throughly subdued Constantinople, they set out to Islamize it. According to the Muslim chronicler Hoca Sa’deddin, tutor of the sixteenth-century Sultans Murad III and Mehmed III, "churches which were within the city were emptied of their vile idols and cleansed from the filthy and idolatrous impurities and by the defacement of their images and the erection of Islamic prayer niches and pulpits many monasteries and chapels became the envy of the gardens of Paradise." [....]

It had been a long time coming. The once-great Empire had been by the time of this last siege of Constantinople reduced to little more than the city itself. But a few chief causes can be isolated:

1. Realpolitik. Short-sighted Byzantine Emperors such as John VI Cantacuzenes made ill-advised alliances with the Ottomans; in 1347 he invited them into Europe to aid them in a dynastic dispute, and they haven't left yet.

2. Disunity. The Western European powers were themselves disunited and preoccupied with their own affairs. Compounding that was the fact that they couldn't rally much support for a bailout of the Byzantines without an ecclesiastical unity that, when it was affected on paper by the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Emperor, was rejected by the people of the Empire. The force the West finally sent was too small, and it was annihilated by the Muslims at Varna in Bulgaria in 1444. Far too many Westerners didn't see the peril of Constantinople as their peril, and far too many Easterners subscribed to the Byzantine official Lukas Notaras' quip: "Better the turban of the Sultan than the tiara of the Pope." [....]

Meanwhile, the world has forgotten what happened on Black Tuesday, and so many other days like it from India to Spain, and persists in the fantasy that Islam does not contain an imperialist impulse and that Muslims can be admitted without limit into Western countries without any attempt to determine how many would like ultimately to subjugate and Islamize their new countries, the way their forefathers did to Constantinople so long ago.

And today we see the same ill-informed games of realpolitik, pragmatic alliances made with those who would conquer and subjugate us, and the same disunity and finger-pointing at each other instead of unity in the face of this threat to our common survival. It is the same sentiment Pastor Niemöller bewailed in his famous poem -- may we be spared from discovering when they come for us that there is no one left to speak for us, for they have all already been taken.

It is fitting that Black Tuesday coincided this year with Memorial Day. For only a strong defense -- not just military, but cultural and spiritual, a civilizational defense -- will conquer the forces of jihad and keep there from being many more Black Tuesdays, many more Last Days of the World. May we mount that defense, and speedily.

One universe or many?

By Aussiegirl

Although this fascinating article dates back to March 30, I just discovered it and am posting it as a mind-stretching exercise for my readers. If you think that mini-black holes, four spatial dimensions, and giving Einstein's theory of general relativity a body blow, is enough to take your breath away, just wait till you read here all about the multiverse, the idea that there may be -- what, an infinite number of universes? As if my mind wasn't boggled enough! Lawrence Krauss, one of the panelists, is less excited than the others at this idea of a multiverse, and offers several reasons why such an idea would be appealing to science. He ends with this sober quote that dashes a little cold water on his over-heated colleagues: Krauss allowed that he might buy the multiverse idea if it’s a consequence of some new theory that also successfully accounts for many other unexplained phenomena. But otherwise, multiverse concepts “are extending into philosophy” rather than science, he added, “and may not be testable.
One universe or many? Panel debates

One universe or many? Panel holds unusual debate

March 30, 2006
Special to World Science

Scientific debates are as old as science. But in science, “debate” usually means a battle of ideas in general, not an actual, politician-style duel in front of an audience.

Occasionally, though, the latter also happens. And when the topic is as esoteric as the existence of multiple universes, sparks can fly.

According to one proposal, new universes could sprout like bubbles off a spacetime "foam" that's not unlike soap bubbles.

Such was the scene Wednesday evening at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Museum staff put together five top physicists and astronomers to debate whether universes beyond our own exist, then watched as the experts clashed over a question that’s nearly unanswerable, yet very much alive in modern physics.

New universes may appear constantly in a “continual genesis,” declared Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at City College of New York and key supporter of the idea that there exist multiple universes, or a “multiverse.”

“The multiverse is like a bubble bath,” with a bubble representing each universe, he added. There are “multiple universes bubbling, colliding and budding off each other” all the time.

Another panelist backed the multiverse idea, but three more insisted there’s virtually no evidence for the highly speculative concept.

A brief history of other universes

Some versions of the many-universes concept date back to ancient Greece, said panelist and science historian Virginia Trimble of the University of California, Irvine. But scientific justifications for the idea began to appear in the second half of the 20th century, when U.S. physicist Hugh Everett proposed it as a solution to a puzzle of quantum mechanics.

Physicists in this field found that a system of subatomic particles can exist in many possible states at once, until someone measures its state. The system then “collapses” to one state, the measured one.

This didn’t explain very satisfactorily why the measurement forces the system into that particular state. Everett proposed that there are enough universes so that one state can be measured in each one. Each time someone makes a measurement, the act creates a new universe that branches off the pre-existing ones.

The “multiverse” theory later reappeared as a consequence of another theory of physics, that of “inflation,” developed by various physicists in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The theory solved several gnawing problems in the Big Bang theory, the idea that the universe was created from an explosion of a single point of extremely compact matter, by postulating that this expansion was stupendously fast in the first infinitesimal fraction of a second, then slowed down.

As part of this initial superheated expansion, known as the inflationary period, the universe could have sprouted legions of “baby universes,” said Andrei Linde of Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., a panelist at Wednesday’s event and a developer of the inflation theory.

A third argument for the multiverse theory comes from string theory, seen by some physicists as the best hope for a “theory of everything” because it shows an underlying unity of nature’s forces and solves conflicts between Einstein’s relativity theory and quantum mechanics.

String theory proposes that the many different types of subatomic particles are really just different vibrations of tiny strings that are like minuscule rubber bands. The catch is that it only works if the strings have several extra dimensions in which to vibrate beyond the dimensions we see.

Why don’t we see the extra dimensions? A proposal dating to 1998 claims we’re trapped in a three-dimensional zone within a space of higher dimensions. Other three-dimensional zones, called “branes,” could also exist, less than an atoms’ width away yet untouchable. The branes are sometimes called different universes, though some theorists say they should be considered part of our own because they can weakly interact with our brane in some ways.

In part the question rests on definitions, noted Lisa Randall, a Harvard University physicist who was one of the panelists on Wednesday night. Different universes can be defined as zones of spacetime that interact with each other weakly or not at all, she said.

Where’s the evidence?

Marshalling their best evidence for extra universes, Kaku and Linde—the two panelists who back the notion—presented a variety of arguments, which all boiled down to two basic points.

One, explained Linde, is that the multiverse solves the problem of why the laws of physics in our universe seem to be fine-tuned to allow for life. “If you change the mass of the proton, the charge on the electron,” or any of an array of other constants, “we’d all be dead,” he argued.

Why is this so, Linde asked—“did someone create this special universe for us?”

Steering clear of the straightforward answer many religious believers would give, “yes,” Linde argued that the multiverse explains the problem without resorting to the supernatural. If there are infinite universes, each one can have different physical laws, and some of them will have those that are just right for us.

The second key argument they presented is the one based on inflation, a theory considered more solidly grounded than the highly speculative string theory and its offshoots. The equations of inflation, Kaku explained, suggest spacetime—the fabric of reality including space and time—was initially a sort of foam, like the bathtub bubbles.

New bubbles could have sprouted constantly, representing new universes, he added. Linde has argued that this occurs because the same process that spawned one inflation can reoccur in the inflating universe, beginning a new round of inflation somewhere else. This would occur when energy fields become locally concentrated in portions of the expanding universe.

Scientists might one day create a “baby universe” in a laboratory by recreating such conditions, Kaku said. This would involve resurrecting the unimaginably high temperatures of the early universe. A spacetime foam can be recreated by literally “boiling space,” he said, adding that a sort of advanced microwave oven could do the trick.

Experiments already planned could “test the periphery” of these ideas, he added including a super-powerful particle accelerator to switch on next year, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

Randall countered that the new accelerator won’t bring particles anywhere near the level of energy needed to recreate the spacetime foam envisioned by multiverse proponents. The energies attained will be lower by a factor of 10 followed by 16 zeros.

Lawrence Krauss, a physicist and astronomer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said the whole multiverse idea is so speculative as to border on nonsense. It’s an outcome of an old impulse, which also gave rise to the correct notion that other planets exist, he argued: “We don’t want to be alone.”

It also caters to our desire for stability, he added: the universe changes, but “the multiverse is always the same.” And if there are many universes, you don’t have to make any predictions that will subject your pet theory to awkward tests, “because there’s always one in which the answers work out.”

Krauss allowed that he might buy the multiverse idea if it’s a consequence of some new theory that also successfully accounts for many other unexplained phenomena. But otherwise, multiverse concepts “are extending into philosophy” rather than science, he added, “and may not be testable.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Satellite could open door on extra dimension

By Aussiegirl

Following up on the article I just posted, on the possibility of testing for a fourth spatial dimension, here's another article with some additional details. But neither article seems at all upset at the prospect of a mini-black hole being as close to us as Pluto! And in addition, there's no discussion of what, if these mini-black holes are found and the Randall-Sundrum braneworld model is shown to be true, this incorrect prediction of Einstein's GR theory means for general relativity. As far as I know, this would be the first incorrect prediction for a theory that has proved able to correctly predict all sorts of things. This has to spell trouble for GR! Oh brave new world, that has such brilliant people in it!

New Scientist SPACE - Breaking News - Satellite could open door on extra dimension

Satellite could open door on extra dimension
12:53 30 May 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Maggie McKee

An exotic theory, which attempts to unify the laws of physics by proposing the existence of an extra fourth spatial dimension, could be tested using a satellite to be launched in 2007.

Such theories are notoriously difficult to test. But a new study suggests that such hidden dimensions could give rise to thousands of mini-black holes within our own solar system – and the theory could be tested within Pluto’s orbit in just a few years.

Black holes of various masses are thought to have sprung into existence within 1 second of the big bang, as elementary particles clumped together at extreme energies. But Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts the smallest of these "primordial" black holes should have already evaporated, through a quantum process called Hawking radiation.

But according to some alternative theories that attempt to unify gravity with quantum mechanics, such as string theory, small black holes could still exist. That is because these theories propose extra spatial dimensions, which alter the way gravity behaves on small scales. The theory of general relativity holds that there are three spatial dimensions plus time. [....]

Now, Keeton and colleague Arlie Petters at Duke University in North Carolina, US, have calculated how many of these tiny black holes should exist – and how they might be detected – according to an offshoot of string theory.

The theory they use, called the Randall-Sundrum braneworld model, proposes that the 3D universe we live in is floating within a larger universe with an extra spatial dimension.

They based their calculations on black holes that each contain only the mass of a small asteroid. Assuming these objects make up 1% of the mass of nearby dark matter – whose existence can only be detected through its gravitational effects on normal matter – the team says there could be several thousand black holes in the solar system. And not only that: "The nearest ones would lie well inside Pluto's orbit," says Keeton.

And the researchers say these black holes may soon be detected. Their gravity should bend light passing nearby, so that light passing on one side of a black hole should take a different amount of time to go by than light passing on the other side. This time delay should be small, so the only chance of detecting it would come from light waves with a period (the time taken for light to travel one wavelength) shorter than the delay, says the team.

They say fleeting cosmic explosions called gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) have just the right period to provide such a test. GRBs are volleys of energetic gamma-ray photons that are thought to be caused by the violent deaths of massive stars, or the collisions of dense stellar corpses.

Light taking different paths around the black hole would later recombine, producing an interference pattern. This would create a telltale signal in observations of how many photons of different energies were emitted in the burst, says the team. [....]

Current telescopes do not probe the high-energy gamma rays required to test the theory. But a NASA satellite called the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), due for launch in August 2007, will. "If we do see the signal, then the strongest conclusion we can draw is that primordial black holes exist," says Keeton.

Then, researchers would have to analyse the data to measure the mass of the black hole. "If it is below some limit, you could say such a black hole cannot exist in general relativity because it would have evaporated by now," says Keeton.

"What we think is exciting is that we can make a specific prediction for an astronomical measurement that would open the door to studying the fourth dimension," he says. [....]

Einstein, please go to the back of the streetcar -- scientists may have found way to detect fourth dimension of space

By Aussiegirl

Gee -- just when you think you've got Einstein's theory of Relativity all figured out and you're starting to feel kinda smug, along comes some smart-alec scientist with yet another theory to mess things up. Maybe their theme song can be "It's a Brane world after all". Frankly, I'm still trying to cope with three spatial dimensions. And the thought that there's a black hole as close as Pluto has me feeling a might uneasy. The scientist who said that the universe is not only stranger than we think, but stranger than we CAN think, was really right!

Scientists Predict How To Detect A Fourth Dimension Of Space

Scientists Predict How To Detect A Fourth Dimension Of Space

Einstein's Theory of Relativity is going to have to defend itself against a new five-dimensional theory of gravity.
by Staff Writers
Durham NC (SPX) May 26, 2006
Scientists at Duke and Rutgers universities have developed a mathematical framework they say will enable astronomers to test a new five-dimensional theory of gravity that competes with Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
Charles R. Keeton of Rutgers and Arlie O. Petters of Duke base their work on a recent theory called the type II Randall-Sundrum braneworld gravity model. The theory holds that the visible universe is a membrane (hence "braneworld") embedded within a larger universe, much like a strand of filmy seaweed floating in the ocean.

The "braneworld universe" has five dimensions -- four spatial dimensions plus time -- compared with the four dimensions -- three spatial, plus time -- laid out in the General Theory of Relativity.

The framework Keeton and Petters developed predicts certain cosmological effects that, if observed, should help scientists validate the braneworld theory. The observations, they said, should be possible with satellites scheduled to launch in the next few years.

If the braneworld theory proves to be true, "this would upset the applecart," Petters said. "It would confirm that there is a fourth dimension to space, which would create a philosophical shift in our understanding of the natural world."

The scientists' findings appeared May 24, 2006, in the online edition of the journal Physical Review D. Keeton is an astronomy and physics professor at Rutgers, and Petters is a mathematics and physics professor at Duke. Their research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Randall-Sundrum braneworld model -- named for its originators, physicists Lisa Randall of Harvard University and Raman Sundrum of Johns Hopkins University -- provides a mathematical description of how gravity shapes the universe that differs from the description offered by the General Theory of Relativity.

Keeton and Petters focused on one particular gravitational consequence of the braneworld theory that distinguishes it from Einstein's theory.

The braneworld theory predicts that relatively small "black holes" created in the early universe have survived to the present. The black holes, with mass similar to a tiny asteroid, would be part of the "dark matter" in the universe. As the name suggests, dark matter does not emit or reflect light, but does exert a gravitational force.

The General Theory of Relativity, on the other hand, predicts that such primordial black holes no longer exist, as they would have evaporated by now.

"When we estimated how far braneworld black holes might be from Earth, we were surprised to find that the nearest ones would lie well inside Pluto's orbit," Keeton said.

Petters added, "If braneworld black holes form even 1 percent of the dark matter in our part of the galaxy -- a cautious assumption -- there should be several thousand braneworld black holes in our solar system."

But do braneworld black holes really exist -- and therefore stand as evidence for the 5-D braneworld theory?

The scientists showed that it should be possible to answer this question by observing the effects that braneworld black holes would exert on electromagnetic radiation traveling to Earth from other galaxies. Any such radiation passing near a black hole will be acted upon by the object's tremendous gravitational forces -- an effect called "gravitational lensing."

"A good place to look for gravitational lensing by braneworld black holes is in bursts of gamma rays coming to Earth," Keeton said. These gamma-ray bursts are thought to be produced by enormous explosions throughout the universe. Such bursts from outer space were discovered inadvertently by the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s.

Keeton and Petters calculated that braneworld black holes would impede the gamma rays in the same way a rock in a pond obstructs passing ripples. The rock produces an "interference pattern" in its wake in which some ripple peaks are higher, some troughs are deeper, and some peaks and troughs cancel each other out. The interference pattern bears the signature of the characteristics of both the rock and the water.

Similarly, a braneworld black hole would produce an interference pattern in a passing burst of gamma rays as they travel to Earth, said Keeton and Petters. The scientists predicted the resulting bright and dark "fringes" in the interference pattern, which they said provides a means of inferring characteristics of braneworld black holes and, in turn, of space and time.

"We discovered that the signature of a fourth dimension of space appears in the interference patterns," Petters said. "This extra spatial dimension creates a contraction between the fringes compared to what you'd get in General Relativity."

Vanishing American -- "...the preservation of our liberty"

By Aussiegirl

Vanishing American has an eye on America this Memorial Day and applies a stethoscope to our collective political health. The outlook isn't good. The question is, how are we to save the patient, and who is making him sick? Here's just a sample of the first-class thinking and writing on this new blog.

Vanishing American

As this Memorial Day closes, as we commemorate our fallen soldiers, it's fitting to reflect on the state of our Republic. And in so doing, it's hard not to question whether we are still the great and free country that generations of our forefathers fought to establish and defend, and for which many of them gave their lives.
As I write this, it seems to me that our country is in dire peril. Our traditions, our way of life, which are uniquely American, are now being undermined and eroded. Our sovereignty is under attack. I could go on enumerating the challenges we are up against, but we know them all too well, those of us who care deeply about our country and our people.
But the biggest danger sign to me is that we seem to have lost our representative form of government. It appears as though 'we, the people' are no longer the repositories of power in our country. 'Our' leaders apparently no longer answer to us; they seem not only to be operating outside the will of the American people, but in open and brazen defiance of the will of the people.

Paul Shlichta remembers Ronald Reagan

By Aussiegirl

You must read Dr. Paul Shlichta's deeply moving tribute to his hero, Ronald Reagan. It brought tears to my eyes, I'm sure it will to yours as well.

The American Thinker

In Memorium: Ronald Reagan

Next week, June 6, will be the anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004, exactly sixty years after D-Day.

A year before his death, President Reagan made a cameo appearance in one of my dreams. I seemed to be standing in the lobby of a public building, when he appeared from around a corner, saw me, and came over and shook my hand. Not knowing quite what to do, I straightened to attention and saluted. It seemed the proper response to the man who broke the ice of the Cold War. He smiled and disappeared.

In the lucid interval of reflection that sometimes follows a dream, I suddenly realized I was thinking of a chimpanzee. That was not surprising. With the vindictiveness characteristic of disgruntled liberals, Reagan’s detractors have never let us forget Bedtime for Bonzo. But that didn’t seem to be the reason.

Finally, I remembered a science fiction story from my youth—“Father of the Stars” by Frederick Pohl. It concerns the last days of a great scientist whose discoveries and inventions had made space travel possible. In his old age, he wanted to experience space travel himself and therefore, like all other astronauts of that time, had to submit to having his brain transferred to the body of a chimpanzee, the only animal whose body could stand the stress of rocket acceleration. But in his case, the synapse was not stable and, after landing on a newly discovered planet, he reverted to animal instincts and ran off to die, alone and frightened.

That’s how Ronald Reagan seemed to die. Like HAL, the computer in 2001 AD, his memory banks were slowly tuned off, one by one, until there was nothing left. Or that is how, in our horror at contemplating the possibility of Alzheimer’s in ourselves, we imagine it to be. But Alzheimer’s is like Hamlet’s “undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns.” We don’t know what it’s like in there. I propose that, swiftly or slowly, we die as we have lived; that good men die well and brave men bravely. The summer before he died, Nancy Reagan said in a TV interview: “he’s still there.” That would mean that his proverbial courage and humor were in there with him.Pohl’s story ends something like this:

“…and that is why the pedestal of his memorial features the bas relief of a frightened ape. But the statue above it is that of a god.”

So let it be with Ronald Reagan. Amid the magnificence of the Reagan Memorial that must inevitably be erected, let there be somewhere a statue of a lonely old man. Let us show some of the courage he was noted for and face his manner of death unflinchingly, as the gallant struggle it was. Who knows; perhaps it was not only his last battle, but also his greatest.

Forthcoming publication of new Ukrainian Anthology -- The Kobzar's Children

By Aussiegirl

My copy is already on order. For those readers who may be interested to find out more about this forthcoming book covering a wide range of Ukrainian history and culture, here is a preview:

Publication date: June 1, 2006
Vancouver Launch: June 2 & 3, 2006
From the cover:

The kobzars were the blind minstrels of Ukraine, who memorized the epic poems and stories of 100 generations. Traveling around the country, they stopped in towns and villages along the way, where they told their tales and were welcomed by all. Under Stalin’s regime, the kobzars were murdered. As the storytellers of Ukraine died, so too did their stories.

Kobzar’s Children is an anthology of short historical fiction, memoirs, and poems written about the Ukrainian immigrant experience. The stories span a century of history; and they contain stories of internment, homesteading, famine, displacement, concentration camps, and this new century’s Orange Revolution. Edited by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, Kobzar’s Children is more than a collection; it is a moving social document that honors the tradition of the kobzars and revives memories once deliberately forgotten.

MARSHA FORCHUK SKRYPUCH is the author of many books for children and young adults, including Silver Threads, Enough, The Hunger, and Hope's War. Her novel about the Armenian Genocide, Nobody's Child, was nominated for the Red Maple Award, the Alberta Rocky Mountain Book Award, and the B. C. Stellar Award; and it was listed by Resource Links as a Best Book. Marsha has been honored by the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations as a Canadian Ukrainian Woman of Influence. The stories and poems in Kobzar's Children were written by a diverse group of people who first responded to Skrypuch's publications and eventually came to share their own stories via email.

The stories, by writers from across Canada, are arranged in chronological order and include:

A Home of Her Own: A true story set in the early 1900s by the late Olga Prychodko, about her mother's misconceptions about immigrating to the wilds of Canada's west.

Andriy's Break: An internment story set during WWI and inspired by true events written by well-known story collector, Danny Evanishen.

It's Me, Tatia: An old woman reflects on lost love and fateful decisons as she remembers a summer long past, during the Winnipeg Strike. Written by award-winning short fiction writer, Brenda Hasiuk.

The Rings: Inspired by true events, a story of one child's escape from the 1930s Ukrainian Famine, written by Marsha Skrypuch.

The Red Boots: A slice of prairie homestead life in the late 1930s and based on an incident in her own father's childhood, this is the first children's story that Marsha Skrypuch ever wrote.

A Song for Kataryna: How could someone just disappear? Well known storyteller Linda Mikolayenko peels back the horrific details of her immigrant aunt's disappearance layer by layer in this beautifully written story.

Auschwitz: Many Circles of Hell: Stefan Petelycky's memoir of his imprisonment in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII because of his involvement in OUN.

A Bar of Chocolate: This humorous tale by first-time author, Natalia Buchok is about how her own father's quest for a bar of chocolate in a post WWII DP camp leads him to dress as a girl and go on a date with an American soldier.

Bargain: A humorous story with wry character sketches, set in the mid-1950s in the Warwaruk's meat market and general store in Glenavon SK. Written by award winning author, Larry Warwaruk.

Candy's Revenge: Set on a prairie farm in the 1950s, this story is about a city girl visiting her country cousin and how an innocent prank had unexpected consequences. Written by first-time author, Cornelia Bilinsky.

Changing Graves: A story based on a real incident in the 1970s about how a bizarre old-world request that a loved one's grave be moved closer to other relatives, ends in black comedy. Written by well-known children's entertainer, writer and poet, Sonja Dunn.

Christmas Missed: The story of a Canadian teen who travels to Ukraine during the Orange Revolution and how missing Christmas with his own family ends up teaching them all about the real meaning of family. Written by first-time author Paulette MacQuarrie.

In addition to the above twelve stories, the anthology contains a number of poems, including one written by Kim Pawliw, when she was 15. It is a tribute to her grandmother, who was interned as a child in Spirit Lake Internment Camp during WWI. Kim wrote the poem in French and translated it herself into English. Both versions are included.

There are also poems by Sonja Dunn and Linda Mikolayenko. The anthology includes photographs supplied by the contributors and by people from across the country.

Contributors reside across the country, so events introducing Kobzar’s Children will be occurring on an ongoing basis in a variety of locations with various of the contributors. The first launch will be held in Vancouver with Marsha and British Columbia's three contributing authors – Danny Evanishen, Stefan Petelycky and Paulette MacQuarrie.

Fri. June 2: in Vancouver at St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Centre, 3150 Ash St. (off 16th, between Cambie and Oak),. at 7 p.m

Sat. June 3: in Richmond at the Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko, 5311 Francis Road (between Railway and No. 2 Road), at 12:30 p.m.

Kobzar's Children: A Century of Ukrainian Stories is published by Fitzhenry &
Whiteside (Markham, Ontario) ISBN 1-55041-954-4.

Iran to flog women for violating dress code -- punishing the object of man's desire

By Aussiegirl

Iran's headlong rush into the 7th Century continues with the news that women will henceforth be flogged immediately for the crime of violating the strict Islamic dress code. And for those impatient to pay for their transgressions the punishment will commence immediately without having to wait in a cue. For those who fail to cover their hair the punishment is even more severe, 10 days to 10 months in prison. Flogging consists of 100 lashes administered in public.

Where is the outrage? Where is the publicity? When a Canadian paper recently published the news that Iran was considering a dress code that would force non-Islamic citizens to wear distinguishing clothing and it turned out that technically this was true, since the parliament did consider such a bill but neglected in the end to pass it, that this was somehow a scandalous calumny against the tolerant Iranian regime and was widely trumpeted in th e press. But the fact that women will be flogged mercilessly for even uncovering their hair or wearing makeup scarcely even warrants a mention.

Where are the feminists? The same ones who were so worked up over Larry Summers's innocuous comments about the underrepresentation of women in the sciences. The ones where feminists in the audience were so sickened that they had to excuse themselves lest they vomit in the auditorium. Yes, those feminists! Are they the same ones who are going to preach cultural tolerance of these barbaric codes? Are they going to somehow portray this as merely a matter of cultural custom and in reality Islam's veneration and respect for women? Where are the burka-wearing idiots? Those Western women who voluntarily don the burka in solidarity with their Islamic friends? Where are the ones who extoll the virtues of the burka and tell us that at least you don't have to worry about having a bad hair day if you wear one? It's one thing to put on chains voluntarily because it gives you some kind of cheap thrill, and quite another to be chained by a barbaric code. And for that matter, where is Oprah Winfrey, that useless mound of fat blubber who panders to suburban women with whom she has absolutely nothing in common?

Oh, dear God -- where is the humanity? Does this not offend everyone's most basic sensibilities? The only question the modern world seems to be facing is whether or not Western civilization commits suicide by hedonistic excess and decadence, or is conquered by a 7th Century fanatical cult of evil.

Let's be clear about this -- I have it on good authority from a close acquaintance of the male persuasion that in his opinion the subjugation of women we see in fundamentalist Islamist societies is a direct result of men's fear and loathing of women, based on their own weakness and lack of control. It's a form of projection. The man hates himself for his own feelings of uncontrollable lust that occur to him when he sees a woman in the streets, and his inability to control himself is externalized and thus the blame is thrown on the object of the lust and desire -- the woman. Thus it is thought by Muslims that women's hair casts out evil rays that bewitch and seduce a man into doing satan's bidding. So it is the fragility of the male ego and his awareness of his impotence before his own lust that drives him to subjugate the object of his desire.

It's like the bank robber blaming the bank, or the alcoholic blaming the alcohol. Take a look at the entire spectrum of Islamic society. It is a society run by men who are completely ruled by their uncontrollable emotions and unbridled passions. If you think about it, it's quite strange -- or maybe not. The Islamic religion means submission. That is why they prostrate themselves, and if you are a Muslim you need not make any decisions on your own. Islam prescribes how you dress, bathe, go to the toilet, behave, what you read, what you eat, what you listen to, what you do. Absolutely every facet of your life is decided. The individual is completely robbed of his free will and becomes a slave to god. But there is always temptation. And it is here that woman is always at fault, and indeed even in previous societies and previous eras of Western culture, woman has always been seen as the seductress, and they wily temptress luring man off the path of the straight and narrow. Now, there is nothing preventing man from controlling his own impulses, just as each of has has to control many impulses that we feel countless times a day. Whether to have that second jelly doughnut (or even the first, for that matter). Whether to have that extra drink, or to stay up too late, or to put off doing what we know we need to do. How much easier to put all those things out of sight and out of mind. Hide those jelly doughnuts, avoid alcohol, force women to cover up so you don't have to face the uncontrollable demon inside you.

Yes, the conundrum is, that when man abandons his free will and becomes a willing slave, he then ironically becomes a slave to his passions. A slave to every passing emotion and desire. Not having learned self-control or the use of reason because he relies exclusively on external rules to live by, he then must destroy and subjugate everything that causes doubt, that causes temptation, that causes distress.

To see some photos of victims of Islamic flogging click here

Iran Focus-Iran to speed up flogging of women for "bad" veil - Women - News

Women who violate Iran’s strict Islamic dress code will be flogged immediately, prosecutor’s offices in provincial centres announced on Tuesday.

In the central Iranian city of Shahin-Shahr, the prosecutor’s office posted huge notices on billboards and shop windows warning women that dress code violators will appear before an Islamic judge immediately after arrest to receive a sentence, usually 100 lashes in public. The prosecutor will be demanding maximum penalties, the notice warned.

“Individuals whose state of attire and make-up is against religious laws in public will be prosecuted without having to first wait in a queue and will be sentenced to flogging and fines”, the statement said.

“Scarves which do not cover the hair and neck”, “tight overcoats or coats that which finish above the knees and whose sleeves cover to a point higher than the wrist”, “tight trousers which do not cover the calf of the leg”, and “women’s make-up” are all forbidden, according to the statement, which added that failure to adhere to the dress code would be dealt with accordingly.

Women whose scarves do not properly cover up their hair will face between 10 days to 10 months in prison, the statement added.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Eloquent Dead

By Aussiegirl

Military historian John B. Dwyer has a beautiful Memorial Day column in the American Thinker today:

The American Thinker

It was originally called Decoration Day. In 1868 the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans led by Major General John A. Logan, established it as a day set aside for placing flowers at the graves of war dead. The first major observance of what came to be known as Memorial Day was held at Arlington National Cemetery in May 1868. Two years later on the 30th of that month, Maj. Gen. Logan delivered an oration towards the end of which he said: “Let us then all unite in solemn feelings of the hour, and tender with our flowers the warmest sympathies of our souls! Let us revive our patriotism and strengthen our loyalty by the example of the noble dead around us.”

The noble dead of the Iraq war include numerous examples of selfless heroism and valor. Here are a few of them:

A Day for remembrance and reflection -- Memorial Day

By Aussiegirl

Christopher Hitchens writes a thoughtful column on remembering and honoring those who have fought on the nation's battlefields, in wars past and wars present.

May we all be worthy of such great sacrifices that words are simply inadequate to address.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

In the Cotswold hills, in deep England, there is a pair of villages named Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter. In addition to its rather gruesome name, Lower Slaughter possesses a unique distinction. It is the only village in all of England that does not possess a First World War memorial. In the remainder of the country, even the smallest hamlet will have--I almost said "will boast"--a stone marker with an arresting number of names on it. In bigger towns, it wouldn't be possible to incise all the names in stone, though at the Menin Gate in the Belgian town of Ypres a whole arch is inscribed with the names of those who fell along the Somme. Every year on Nov. 11--anniversary of the 1918 "Armistice"--the rest of the English-speaking world gathers, with Flanders poppies worn in the lapel, to commemorate the dead of all wars but in particular to feel again the still-aching wounds of the "war to end all wars": the barbaric conflict that shook peoples' faith in civilization itself.[...]

"Always think of it: never speak of it." That was the stoic French injunction during the time when the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine had been lost. This resolution might serve us well at the present time, when we are in midconflict with a hideous foe, and when it is too soon to be thinking of memorials to a war not yet won. This Memorial Day, one might think particularly of those of our fallen who also guarded polling-places, opened schools and clinics, and excavated mass graves. They represent the highest form of the citizen, and every man and woman among them was a volunteer. This plain statement requires no further rhetoric.

The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

By Aussiegirl

Russians are experiencing an immigration problem of their own. Tim Birdnow wrote about this emerging trend in his article for the American Thinker recently. It would be worth it to take a look and see that our good friend nails another prognostication. Note that years after the supposed end of communism private property still does not exist. Russia's demographic implosion is already having repercussions, and will continue to do so in future years.

Here's what Tim had to say in his prescient article entitled "Empty Womb":

Russia finds itself in a terrible conundrum; she needs people – especially skilled people – but is unable to keep the skilled Russians at home to work. So Russia is forced to accept more immigrants to keep the economy moving. The larger the economy grows, the more Russia needs workers.

The problem is that Siberia has always been under-populated, and even the Russian oil pools were never swimming in Great Russians. Many Russians are becoming increasingly disturbed by the invasion of non-Russian peoples, and the cry “Russia for the Russians” increasingly is being heard against this flood of illegal aliens.

Now here's the article in today's Asia Times:

Asia Times Online :: Central Asian News and current affairs, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, KHABAROVSK and VLADIVOSTOK - The Chinese are coming! They are invading the Far East! If headlines in the new and free - but often sensational and irresponsible - Russian press are to be believed, a massive influx of Chinese into Siberia and the Russian Far East is turning the area "yellow" and Russia is about to lose its easternmost provinces.

But in cities such as Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk the Chinese are not very much in evidence. They are there, but seldom seen outside their hotels and restaurants - and the region's ubiquitous casinos and Chinese markets. It is true, however, that Chinese merchants now

dominate the region's trade and commerce. Economically, the Russian Far East is becoming separated from European Russia.

Before the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the Far East supplied European Russia and the other western republics with fish and crabs from the Sea of Okhotsk. The area's heavy industry produced steel, aircraft and even ships, and few foreign consumer goods were for sale.

Today, Chinese consumer goods - which are cheaper and better than those produced far away in European Russia - and even food are flooding the markets, while timber and raw materials are going south. Entire factories are being dismantled and sold as scrap metal to China. And the seafood is almost exclusively sold to South Korea and Japan.

In the long run this could also lead to demographic changes. There is a floating population of tens of thousands Chinese traders and seasonal workers who move back and forth across the border, and one day they may want to stay.

Russia's Far Eastern Federal District - a huge area covering 6,215,900 square kilometers - has only 7 million inhabitants, and that is down from 9 million in 1991. The population is declining rapidly as factories are closing down and military installations have been withdrawn.

Across the border, China's three northeastern provinces - Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning - are home to 100 million people, and the area has even by Chinese standards an unusually high unemployment rate. Or, as one Western analyst put it: "If the Russians continue to move out, the Chinese are ready to fill the resultant population vacuum in the area." And that could lead to more than just a change of the demographic balance in what still is the Russian Far East.

Officially, 40,000 Chinese live more or less permanently in the Russian Far East - which stretches from the Lena River basin to the Bering Sea - but the actual figure is believed to be much higher. The largest concentrations are in the three main cities in the area, and their economic dominance is the strongest in Blagoveshchensk, the economy of which is less developed and diversified than those of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.

Blagoveshchensk is also on the banks of the Amur River - with the Chinese city of Heihe on the other side. Hydrofoils full of Chinese traders bringing in goods ply between the two cities every 30 minutes. There are some Russian merchants too - but they are also carrying household utensils, shoes and tools from China.

And it is not only the trade in consumer goods that is in the hands of the Chinese. The construction sector in Blagoveshchensk is dominated by a Chinese-owned company, Hua Fu, which has just began working on what will be the tallest building in the Russian Far East. Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, but it is celebrated in style with fireworks, drums and lion dances.

Even the mayor of the city and the governor of the area, Amursky oblast, usually participate as guests of honor. Amursky oblast may also be the most vulnerable for what many Russians call a "creeping occupation" by the Chinese. It is huge - 363,700 square kilometers, the same area as Japan - but with a population of only 900,000. More than 35 million live in Heilongjiang across the Amur River.

Local Russians say the land is not suitable for farming, the weather being too cold most of the year, but the Chinese who have settled there have managed to cultivate the land. According to Lyudmila Erokhina, a researcher at Vladivostok State University, Chinese businessmen have bribed local officials to acquire land from Russian farmers, and then brought in agricultural workers from China to till the fields. A major problem, she says, is that Russia has no law that regulates private ownership of land. All land still belong to the state, and individual farmers can only get the right to use it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Invisibility Through Nano

By Aussiegirl

Here's an interesting article about what looks like magic, but could really work -- making something invisible.

Invisibility Through Nano

by Charles Q. Choi
New York (UPI) May 26, 2006

Invisibility cloaks that bend light might develop using nanotechnology, experts tell UPI's Nano World. "There are probably quite a number of useful things you could do with stealth for the military," said researcher John Pendry, a physicist at Imperial College London.
More mundane applications also include hiding obstacles -- "for example, one may wish to put a cloak over the refinery that is blocking your view of the bay," said researcher David Schurig, a physicist at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Moreover, objects invisible to electromagnetic fields are isolated from them as well. "You may want to protect something from electromagnetic interference," he added. [....]

Light is often bent in nature. For instance, mirages form when desert sands heat air that goes on to bend light rays from up above, creating images of the sky that deceive thirsty wanderers as illusions of water, Schurig explained.

The cloaking devices a team of scientists at Imperial College London and Duke University conjectured, along with Leonhardt working independently, do not render items transparent, with light streaming through an object. Nor would these machines simply provide camouflage. Instead, the invisibility the scientists describe would smoothly guide rays of light completely around an item so they proceed along their original trajectory as if nothing were there, hiding the object from sight without producing reflections or shadows. These devices would not require power to work.

Imagine making a hole in space the right size to fit a desired object. "This hole is akin to one that can be opened up in a woven cloth by sticking a pointed object between the threads and compressing the fibers radially outward," Schurig explained. "In essence, the electromagnetic fields are confined to the 'threads of the cloth' and cannot reach an object placed in the 'hole.' Outside the compressed region the 'threads' and the fields are returned to their original paths, undisturbed."

The key ingredients for cloaking devices are compounds known as metamaterials. Metamaterials that deal with light are made of structures smaller than the length of a wave of light -- if the structures were larger, they would scatter the light instead of guide it. Red light has a wavelength of roughly 650 nanometers or billionths of a meter, while blue light has a wavelength of about 475 nanometers. Radio waves, microwaves and infrared waves have longer wavelengths than visible light while ultraviolet rays, X-rays and gamma rays have shorter ones. [....]

Still split on constitution, EU bids to rebrand text

By Aussiegirl

Just do as Sen. McCain has suggested and call it a "banana". An EU by any other name would still stink as bad.

Still split on constitution, EU bids to rebrand text

Vienna - Exactly one year after French and Dutch voters torpedoed the European Union constitution, a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers ended Sunday with no breakthrough on resolving the crisis.

But there was a fragile emerging consensus that the text would have to be rebranded and marketed under a new PR strategy to win over deeply sceptical voters.

'I assume this question will come up...should we change the name of it,' said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, adding: 'If someone finds a better name, great.'

All 25 EU member states must give a green light for the constitution to enter into force.

Reunited: boys saved from slavers - Sunday Times - Times Online

By Aussiegirl

Let's not forget that slavery has long been a staple of Muslim history, indeed the black slaves captured and imported into the Americas in the 18th and 19th centuries were sent there in large part by Arab Muslim slave traders. It's heartening to see that they are keeping up their old traditions. The Arab Slave trade began in the 7th Century AD and according to many sources, ended in 1911. It looks like reports of their demise were premature.

Reunited: boys saved from slavers - Sunday Times - Times Online

A SENIOR member of an Islamic organisation linked to Al-Qaeda is funding his activities through the kidnapping of Christian children who are sold into slavery in Pakistan.
The Sunday Times has established that Gul Khan, a wealthy militant who uses the base of Jamaat-ud Daawa (JUD) near Lahore, is behind a cruel trade in boys aged six to 12.

They are abducted from remote Christian villages in the Punjab and fetch nearly £1,000 each from buyers who consign them to a life of misery in domestic servitude or in the sex trade.

Khan was exposed in a sting organised by American and Pakistani missionaries who decided to save 20 such boys and return them to their homes. Using a secret camera, they filmed him accepting $28,500 (£15,000) from a Pakistani missionary posing as a businessman who said he wanted to set up an operation in which the boys would beg for cash on the streets.

Gingrich revolutionaries turn into arrogant elite

By Aussiegirl

Mark Steyn as usual, gets right to the nub of the matter. The Senate (henceforth known as the House of Lords), has completely disconnected itself from the will of the people and the good of the nation. It's become perfectly clear that what we presently have in the Senate (there may still be hope for the House, but Hastert's hissy fit is hardly encouraging) is a permanent ruling class that has lost any fear of the electorate due to what amounts to perpetual incumbency. And when you have a permanent ruling elite this is the sort of out-of-touch legislation you get.

The country-club Rockefeller wing of the Republican party has almost successfully purged itself of what it obviously sees as its vestigial and useless right wing. The defeat and purging of the Reagan conservatives is almost complete.

Gingrich revolutionaries turn into arrogant elite: "Of all the many marvelous Ronald Reagan lines, this is my favorite: ''We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around.''
He said it in his inaugural address in 1981, and, despite a Democrat-controlled Congress, he lived it. It sums up his legacy abroad: Across post-Communist Europe, from Lithuania to Bulgaria to Slovenia, governments that had nations have been replaced by nations that have governments."

[...]Which current member of the Republican Party's creme de la creme could utter that Reagan line and mean it? Take the speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert. Last week, something very unusual happened: There was a story out of Washington that didn't reflect badly on the Republican Party's competence or self-discipline. It was about a Democrat! Fellow from Louisiana called William Jefferson. Corruption investigation. Don't worry, if you're too distracted by "American Idol," it's not hard to follow, you just need to know one little visual image: According to an FBI affidavit, this Democrat congressman was caught on video taking a hundred-grand bribe from a government informer and then storing it in his freezer. That's what the scandal's supposed to be: Democrat Icecapades of 2006. All the GOP had to do was keep out of the way and let Jefferson and his Dem defenders skate across the thin ice like Tonya Harding with her lumpy tights full of used twenties. It was a perfect story: No Republicans need be harmed in the making of this scandal.

So what does Hastert do? He and the House Republican leadership intervene in the case on behalf of the Democrat: They're strenuously objecting to the FBI having the appalling lese majeste to go to court, obtain a warrant and search Jefferson's office. In constitutional terms, they claim it violates the separation of powers. In political terms, they're climbing right into the Frigidaire with Jefferson's crisp chilled billfold. What does the Republican base's despair with Congress boil down to? That the Gingrich revolutionaries have turned into the pampered potentates of pre-1994 Washington, a remote insulated arrogant elite interested only in protecting the privileges of the permanent governing class. But how best to confirm it? Hmm. What about if we send the Republican speaker out to argue that congressmen are beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. law-enforcement agencies?

[...]By the way, even if one were in favor of the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill, it's a complete fantasy. Anyone who's had any experience of U.S. immigration knows that there is no way you can toss another 15 million people into the waiting room of a system that can barely process routine non-discretionary applications in under a decade. But then the ever greater disconnect between ineptly drafted legislation and reality seems to be of no interest to the United States Congress. City Journal's Nicole Gelinas had an interesting story the other day about the effect of the Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory reforms, poorly drafted and hastily passed in the wake of the Enron collapse. The regulatory burden imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley has increased the cost of being a medium-sized public company by 223 percent since 2002. As a result, growing companies are choosing to list themselves not on the New York Stock Exchange but in London, Luxembourg and Hong Kong. Sarbanes-Oxley is a badly written law that forces companies to devote inordinate time and money in hopes of being in compliance with its vague requirements. It makes more sense to go elsewhere. In other words, the cost of access to U.S. equity markets has become too high.

But hey, that's not a problem for federal legislators who've moved on to frolic in other pastures. I said the other day that McCain and Specter and Sarbanes and Lott and the rest were presidents-for-life of the one-party state of Incumbistan. Between all the comprehensive immigration reform and corporate governance reform and campaign-finance reform and campaign-finance-reform reform and all the other changes, McCain and Co. sail on, eternally unchanging, decade after decade. There are no plans for Senate governance reform or Trent Lott finance reform. Incumbistan is a government that has a nation.

Better no immigration bill than this monstrosity

By Aussiegirl

National Review has an excellent editorial on immigration reform. It brings up only a few of the manifold problems that this bill would create. But let me just enlarge on a few that have not received much attention.

Let's take the following quote from the editorial:

"Implicit in their arguments for amnesty and a guest-worker program is one possible objection to the attrition strategy: that the American economy needs more cheap, unskilled labor. Proponents of mass immigration boast that immigration brings a net benefit of $10 billion to the American economy. But this amount is, in the context of our $13 trillion economy, trivial. Reduced immigration would lead to some increased outsourcing, some substitution of machines for labor, some increased wages, and some higher prices. The economy would survive."

I take particular note of the words "increased outsourcing". It has recently occurred to me that one unspoken part of this immigration fever may be the desire of businesses to insource outsourcing by importing large numbers of unskilled workers to perform the kinds of jobs that are presently being outsourced to places like India, Bangladesh and China, among others. It might be more convenient for these companies not to have to re-import their goods and not have to deal with the expense and problems of shipping and myriads of regulations and other problems that that entails. Indeed, a reader informs me that in his city found in the heartland of this country, a company has built a large factory and staffed it with Mexican immigrants while building them a nearby shanty-town to live in. Welcome to the company store.

In addition, let's look at mechanization. The reason the South became a backward civilization that was destined to be "Gone With the Wind", was that they became dependent on slave labor, while the north was the source of all industrialization and invention. And in many ways that analogy holds true today. If the need was there, I see no reason why innovative minds could not find a host of new machines to harvest many crops that are presently harvested by hand only because there is a cheap and ready source of labor to do it. There is presently no need. Furthermore, it is untrue to suggest that a majority of illegals are employed in agriculture. The Washington suburbs have one of the highest percentages of illegal immigrants in the country, and there is no agriculture near here that employs large numbers of workers for harvesting crops.

There are so many bad parts of this monstrous bill that it's impossible to pick them all apart. But in addition to the portion that deals with the present levels of illegal immigrants there is a portion of the bill that deals with legal immigration and inverts the present quotas of skilled to unskilled labor, ensuring that the overwhelming majority of new immigrants will be unskilled and poorly educated. Where are the millions of unskilled jobs to come from if not for increased insourcing of outsourcing? There simply cannot be that many tomatoes or strawberries to pick or hotel rooms to clean.

Let's take another aspect of the problem. What government agency is going to be responsible for the monumental task of processing a flood of some 12 or more million applications when the present agency is years behind in processing the paperwork of legal immigrants with legitimate claims?

Are we then to have a new governmental agency costing in the billions of dollars and staffed with thousands of new employees? If so, this is nowhere evident in the legislation. How then is this to be enforced or even processed? How are these people supposed to prove that they are here for a certain amount of time? We know that they are proficient at forging and obtaining fraudulent documents. What sort of documentation are they to provide that they have been in the country for the required amount of time? And who will have the time and the resources to investigate all this paperwork to determine if it is legitimate?

Hopefully, the Republicans in the House of Representatives have heard the voice of the people and will not vote for this bill as it is presently formulated. Better no bill, than this monstrosity.

The Editors on Immigration on National Review Online

The Senate isn’t serious about enforcing the nation’s immigration laws. It is bad enough that the bill that 39 Democrats and 23 Republicans just voted to pass provides an amnesty to illegal immigrants already here. There might be an argument for doing that if there were any evidence of a commitment to enforce the immigration laws in the future. But the bill actually prohibits local police from enforcing civil violations of immigration laws—which in practice, given the byzantine rules distinguishing between civil and criminal violations of those laws, will get local police out of the enforcement business altogether. No serious effort is being made to make the bureaucracy capable of the enforcement tasks that will now be asked of them, such as performing background checks on the illegal population.

The bill forbids the federal government to use any information included in an application for amnesty in national-security or criminal investigations. Any federal agent who does use that information would be fined $10,000—which is five times more than an illegal alien would have to pay to get the amnesty. The Senate, on a tie vote, defeated John Cornyn’s (R., Tex.) attempt to rectify these provisions.

When Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) offered an amendment to require that enforcement be proven to have succeeded before the amnesty or guest-worker provisions could take effect, he was voted down, 55-40. For most senators, enforcement is just boob bait for the voters. They are not willing to demand it before getting what they, for various reasons, really want: an amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) wanted to deny illegal immigrants the earned income tax credit. It is one thing to legalize them, went the argument, and another to subsidize them. He, too, was voted down, with Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) flippantly suggesting that the amendment was akin to requiring illegals to ride in the back of the bus. (No, senator: They’re in the front of the line, at least for legal residency in the U.S.)

The “temporary” guest-workers will be eligible for citizenship. If they overstay their welcome, there is no guarantee they will be deported—especially when Congress will have signaled, by passing this bill, its view that deportation is draconian. So these “temporary” workers will permanently change America. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation estimates that the bill would make for an inflow of 66 million immigrants over the next 20 years. Since much of this inflow would consist of poor and relatively uneducated people, one result would be, he says, the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years. (And he’s not accounting for the likely effects of these people’s votes.) Another very likely result would be the increased balkanization of America, as this massive inflow slows both economic and cultural assimilation.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Birds grasp basic rule of grammar, study finds

By Aussiegirl

In the previous post we learned that pigeons can think in logarithms. In this very interesting article we learn that the European starling -- that's the bird in the accompanying photo -- can understand recursive center-embedding, a fundamental feature of human language. What's that, you ask? Well, read further.

Birds grasp basic rule of grammar, study finds

Birds grasp basic rule of grammar, study finds
April 26, 2006
Courtesy University of California, San Diego
and World Science staff

The European starling—long known as a virtuoso songbird and expert mimic—may also soon win a reputation as something of a grammatician, researchers say: the little bird can learn language patterns formerly thought to be unique to humans.

Researchers led by Timothy Q. Gentner, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, have found that starlings can understand a key feature of grammar.

This feature, called recursive center-embedding, is what lets speakers make new sentences by inserting words and clauses within other sentences.

Thus, for example, “Oedipus ruled Thebes” can become “Oedipus, who killed his father, ruled Thebes” or “Oedipus, who killed his father, whom he met on the road from Delphi, ruled Thebes.” This can theoretically go on without limit.

Some researchers, including followers of the highly influential U.S. linguist Noam Chomsky, have held that this is a universal feature of human language, unique to humans, and which forms the logical core of our language.

The new findings challenge that view, Gentner said. “If birds can learn these patterning rules, then their use does not explain the uniqueness of human language.”

The finding also “re-invigorates the search” for the evolutionary roots of language among animals, said Daniel Margoliash, a coauthor along with Gentner of a paper describing the findings. The study appears in the April 27 issue of the research journal Nature. [....]

“There might be no single property or processing capacity,” the researchers wrote, “that marks the many ways in which the complexity and detail of human language differs from non-human communication systems.”

More generally, Gentner said, “The more closely we understand what nonhuman animals are capable of, the richer our world becomes. Fifty years ago, it was taboo to even talk about animal cognition,” he continued. Now, “no one doubts that animals have complex and vibrant mental lives.”

Pigeon-brained birds can think in logarithms

By Aussiegirl

If this is true, we should stop referring to certain people as "bird-brains".

New Scientist News - Pigeon-brained birds can think in logarithms

Pigeon-brained birds can think in logarithms
20 May 2006

CONFUSED by logarithms? If so, you'll be surprised to hear they come naturally to igeons and possibly, subconsciously, to you.

There are asymmetries in the way animals perceive numbers and time, and a recent experiment showed that pigeons underestimate the midpoint between two time intervals.

In the experiment, pigeons were trained to tap one lever when a light flash was "short", perhaps 1 second long, and another lever when the flash was "long", say 16 seconds. When the birds then saw flashes of intermediate length, you would expect them to distinguish long from short around the mid-point of 8 or 9 seconds. But instead they switched at 4 seconds.

Pigeons might perceive time on a logarithmic scale on which higher values are increasingly compressed together. Alternatively, they might perceive time linearly but are confused by longer intervals. If pigeons use a log scale, they will correctly classify 9 and 10-second flashes more often than 7 and 8-second flashes, while if they use a linear model their accuracy should be similar. William Roberts from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, has now shown that six pigeons, tapping levers for 20 days, conformed neatly to the logarithmic model (Behavioural Processes, vol 72, p 207).

The results may apply to humans, because brains have to prioritise the small numbers most relevant in life. It might be an evolutionary strategy to discriminate numbers like this, says Roberts.

Spotting the quantum tracks of gravity waves

By Aussiegirl

Here's another interesting article about perhaps the weirdest part of modern science, quantum entanglement. Don't be upset that this concept is so hard to understand -- it comes straight out of the mathematics, and I doubt that even the most brilliant physicist can truly visualize how a photon can be both a wave and a particle at the same time.

New Scientist News - Spotting the quantum tracks of gravity waves

Spotting the quantum tracks of gravity waves
27 May 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Zeeya Merali

THE spooky link that can exist between quantum particles even when they are far part could provide an unexpected way to detect the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves are set off by extreme events, such as supernova explosions, but they are weak and notoriously difficult to detect. Now a group of physicists is suggesting that the waves could leave their signature on "entangled" quantum particles lying in their path.

Entanglement is a weird quantum effect through which particles become intimately linked, so that measuring a property on one instantaneously affects the others, no matter how far apart they are. It is a fragile property that is hard to produce and manipulate, but this fragility may make entangled states sensitive enough to pick up the weak gravitational waves that have so far eluded other methods of detection. [....]

“A set of such entangled particles, with precisely defined spins, could be used to detect gravity waves”However, Lloyd does not think that a gravitational detector based on entanglement is a realistic prospect, even after amplification. "It's a real effect, but an unbelievably small one," he says. "To get something observable you'd need a gravity field so large it would rip your lab apart."

Is Ahmadinejad unhinged? Or is he frighteningly hinged?

By Aussiegirl

Our good friend, Amil Imani, has written another important article about the motivations of Ahmadinejad. The West is making a big mistake if it dismisses this leader as an unhinged madman. He is very sane and acting in complete accordance with his beliefs. We must understand these beliefs if we are to prevail in this coming conflict with him. Remember in the movie Patton, when Patton yells out to Rommel -- "I read your book, you son-of-a-bitch!" -- So we must "read Ahmadinejad's book" in order to understand him and his war aims.

TA: Pres. Ahmadinejad of Iran

[...]Once again the West is misreading and misjudging the people and the events in the Middle East, due to the fact that it views things through its own prism. Looking at the man through the Western spectacles, he indeed appears to be all of the above. Yet Ahmadinejad is far from unhinged. As a matter of fact he is firmly hinged to a set of beliefs that dictate his views of the world and how he should deal with it from his position of power. An unhinged has the potential of being hinged.

But, there is very little that can be done to a person who is inseparably hinged. Ahmadinejad's views are firmly rooted in the most orthodox philosophy of Shiism.

To understand Ahmadinejad’s mind set and behavior one must scrutinize the elaborate and intricate theology of Hujetieh Shiism, perhaps the most fundamentalist of numerous Shiite sects.

For our purposes, however, it is sufficient to document the fact that Ahmadinejad is not unhinged. Unhinged is a derogatory term for a mentally disturbed. A prominent feature of a mentally disturbed is the display of contradictory thoughts and behavior. Ahmadinejad’s words, deeds and beliefs show he is a fully hinged. He is, to perception of many, may be hinged with dangerous and faulty ideas. Yet he is hinged.

There is a full internal consistency in Ahmadinejad. Here are a few examples of his sayings, beliefs and actions. Whether one agrees or disagrees with them, they all fit perfectly into a consistent pattern.

He literally believes in the imminent emergence of the Mahdi the Shiites promised one who is expected to appear to set aright a decadent and wretched world.
He views himself as the vassal of Mahdi, working for him and being accountable to him.
His main task is to prepare the world so to hasten the Mahdi's coming. If this preparation requires much destruction and bloodshed, so be it.
As a former mayor of Tehran, he developed elaborate detail plans preparing the city for the arrival of the Mahdi.
He allocated generous sums for extensive road improvement to a mosque at Jamkaaraan near the city of Qum where it is believed the promised Mahdi is hiding in a well since the age of nine over 1100 years ago.
He reportedly visits the well frequently and drops his written supplications into the well for the hidden Mahdi to act upon them.
He has said in private that it was him who asked the Mahdi to inflict the massive stroke on Ariel Sharon.
He sees the Jews as the sworn enemies of Islam. The hostility dates back to the time of Muhammad's own treatment of the Jews in Medina. At first, expediently, Muhammad called the Jews "people of the book," and accorded them a measure of tolerance until he gained enough power to unleash his devastating wrath on them.
He says that the Holocaust is a myth. He is, in this respect, in good company with a number of other revisionist claimants.
He wants Israel to be wiped out of the map or transferred to Europe.
In his speech at the UN general assembly, he implored the Mahdi to come and save the world. He claimed that during his speech of some twenty odd minutes, a powerful light enveloped him and all participants were held transfixed unable to move their eyes.
He believes that the earth is Allah's and all people must either become believers of his brand of Islam or must perish as infidels najis (unclean) who by their very presence defile Allah's earth.
He believes that this earthly life is passing and worthless in comparison to the afterlife awaiting a devoted and faithful believer. Hence, he holds to the old belief that if a faithful kills and infidel, he goes to Allah's paradise; and, if the faithful gets killed in the process of serving the faith, again he goes to Allah's paradise. It is a win-win proposition for the faithful.
There is nothing unhinged about Ahamadinejad's thinking, statements and actions. They are internally consistent. He is simply a fanatic who is wedded to an extremely dangerous exclusionary system of belief.[...]

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your national identity!

By Aussiegirl

This is a must read article by James Pinkerton! One of the most insightful analyses of the situation I have read to date, and one that clarifies a lot of thoughts I've had concerning the curious confluence of left and right over the issues of globalization and immigration. When the left and the right come together on something that will affect the entire future of not only the country, but the world, you know only bad can come of it. Whenever you have a concentration of power the end result is not going to be good, and you know the average person is in trouble when left and right start singing from the same hymn book. As communism found out, you can't go against human nature -- and universalism or globalism goes against human nature. While the Catholic church may be a universal church open to all spiritually, it has nothing to do with political matters or issues of nation states. The universalism is a spiritual one, not a national or international one. Think locally, act globally, the new agers tell us. Well, the fact is that most people do think locally, and it's in the acting locally that the free market is at it's most productive, responding and reacting to local needs and demands. Once things become globalized, they of necessity become homogenized and regulated so that one size fits all.

TCS Daily - Universalism vs. Nationalism

By James Pinkerton

Here's a question: Why do Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and The Wall Street Journal editorial page have such similar views on immigration?

The answer is that all four of the above -- Mahony, CAIR, the ACLU, and the Journal -- have chosen universalism over nationalism. The four embrace different visions of universalism, to be sure, but each one of them is similar insofar as it seeks to transcend passports and borders. Each of the four pursues a trans-nationalizing, world-flattening globalism that regards nation-states as, at best, necessary evils -- and at worst, unnecessary evils. Far better, the universalists say, to unite the world, regardless of color and class, according to common belief. In terms of either religion or ideology, many find it inspiring to think that the whole world might be united into one big system, in which all pursue purity or prosperity. It's all pretty heady stuff, these universalisms.

But there's one big catch: Such universalizing is terrible politics -- the folks at home don't like it, and they won't vote for it. Regular people don't seem to like universalism; they like nationalism, particularism, localism. Electorates, each in their own homeland, seem to reject new world orders, preferring to organize themselves into something that many thought was dead and discredited: the nation state.

[...]Looking at these four universalisms, we see similarities and differences. Obviously, Christianity and Islam are different religions, but they are similar, too, insofar as they are both evangelistic, world-girdling monotheisms. And if Christianity and Islam are two sides of the same religious coin, so the ACLU and the Journal are two sides of the same globalizing coin.

Whoa! Wait just a second, some might protest: the ACLU and the Journal as two sides of the same globalizing coin? Is that really true? Just as Christianity and Islam are different, but share certain characteristics, so it is with the left-wing and right-wing globalists. Both left and right "globalists" share a secular faith in abstractions: rights, markets, freedom, etc. In the minds of globalists, national differences should recede as the great ideas of history make their advance.

[...]And so we come to the problem with any and all of these isms: they make for unpopular politics. Let's review:

Cardinal Mahony may want an open border with Mexico, but most Americans -- even most Catholics -- do not. And in Europe, even traditionally ultra-Catholic Spain is tightening up.

Various Islamists may wish to see the Caliphate restored, but there will be many wars before it happens. And that's just between Shia and Sunni Muslims, let alone Muslims and everyone else.

ACLU-ers and left-wing internationalists might have cheered when then-Vice President Al Gore said, with a perfectly straight face, that US troops "died in the service of the United Nations" -- but most Americans hated that thought.

And as for right-wing internationalists, such as those at the Journal, they've certainly got strong arguments when it comes to Ricardian comparative advantage, but other attempts to implement their political agenda, such as keeping the border open and bringing the blessings of liberty to Iraq, are, shall we say, less viable.

To the endless consternation of the globalists, most people prefer to think small: to express affection for their own, first.

[...]The challenge for all of us is to maintain a balance between inspiring universalisms and required particularisms. Yes, we dream big dreams, but politics is the art of the possible. So politics becomes our humility-enforcement tool. Political pressure checks the universalists, balancing their grandiosity with practicality.

All things in reference and proportion, Edmund Burke said. And he was right.

James Pinkerton is TCS media critic and fellow at the New America Foundation.

Wolfang Bruno asks - Do we need religion?

By Aussiegirl

Readers of Ultima Thule are already aware of the brilliant writing and thinking of Wolfgang Bruno. Here is the next installment in his ongoing engagement with the most profound problems of our age. These are problems we have all been struggling with, including here at this website in my recent article on Faith and Modern Culture. Set aside some time to really peruse both part I and part II of this timely and thoughtful analysis. I will have more thoughts on this topic in a day or two. Bruno's ideas are important to understanding the present immigration crisis as well.

Wofgang Bruno -- Do We Need Religion?

I am fortunate enough to have read Ali Sina’s excellent, upcoming book, which, sadly enough, hasn’t found a publisher yet. I agree with Sina on most important points, especially the fact that Islam probably can’t be reformed and that we are very close to a new world war triggered by Islamic fanaticism. Sina writes a lot about reclaiming the West's morality and what's wrong with the West. This closely mirrors what I am doing in my own book, which so far has the working title: "Reformation Impossible: What’s Wrong With Islam and What’s Wrong With the West?” According to Ali Sina, the West is now a moral relativistic society, where the vacuum created by religion is sorely felt. But at the same time, Sina questions whether a return to religion is the way to go. In an email to me, Sina writes the following: “But is religion the answer? How can we go back to religions when we know they are based on lies? I think our challenge is to find a way to salvage morality and family values without the burden of religion. Maybe I am asking too much. But there must be a way. There must be more choices than either believing in lies or becoming immoral. There must be a middle ground. This point is fundamental to the survival of the western civilization. We must find an answer to it.”

This is where Sina and I part ways. As this is probably one of the most important issues of our age, it could make for an interesting discussion. Can you have morality without religion? I’m not so sure, which is why I will recommend a strengthening of the traditional Judeo-Christian religion of the West. When I first thought of writing my book, I imagined myself concluding it with some short recommendations for how Westerners should deal with Islam and Muslim immigration. The more I have looked into the matter, the more I have discovered that the really interesting issue is not what's wrong with Islam, but what's wrong with the West, which is why I will devote up to one third of the book to answering this question.

Europe has been threatened by Islam several times before, but has managed to withstand it. Why not now? If we want to mount a defense of Western civilization, then we first need to define exactly what Western civilization is. I have found that the West at the beginning of the 21st century is mired in an internal cultural battle, an ideological civil war over the purpose of the West that is sometimes so severe that combined with Muslim immigration it could even trigger physical civil wars in several Western nations in the near future.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Before the Big Bang there may have been a Big Shrink

By Aussiegirl

OK, everybody - thinking caps on -- and hopefully not set to the "stun" position. This is tricky -- but fun. And to add to the fun, let's add yet another dimension from Gerald Schroeder's fascinating book "Genesis and the Big Bang". Now Schroeder, who is a nuclear physicist, cell biologist AND applied theologian specializing in Hebrew and the ancient rabbinical study of the cabala, tells us that hundreds of years ago, both Nahmanides and Maimonedes described and interpreted Genesis this way: Before the creation time did not exist. In a quote from the book:

"...If space and time did not exist, how was the universe brought into existence? Some 500 years ago, the cabalists theorized that at the instant of creation, God, filling all eternity, contracted. Within that contraction, the universe expanded. To form the universe God chose from the infinite realm of the divine, ten dimension or aspects and relegated them to be held in the universe. These dimensions are hinted at in the ten repetitions of the statements, "And God said..." used only in the opening chapter of Genesis. The cabalists believed that only four of the ten dimensions are physically measurable in today's world. The other six contracted into submicroscopic dimensions during the six days of Genesis. Today we refer to those measurable dimensions as length, width, height and time. {...}With an amazing congruity, particle physicists now talk about String Theory, a unified description of our universe in ten dimensions."

Well, now -- how do you like them apples? The cabalists already had not only String Theory figured out, but the idea of a contracting universe which preceded the Big Bang. Pretty neat, huh?

Another universe may have preceded ours, study finds

Three physicists say they have done calculations showing that before the birth of our universe, which is expanding, there was an earlier universe that was shrinking.

The results stem from a theory that claims the fabric of space and time is made up of minuscule, indivisible bits, much as matter is.

The diagram represents our expanding universe as the right branch of the arc. The present time is at the right edge. According to Ashtekar's calculations, when looking backward throughout the history of the universe, 'time' does not go to the point of the Big Bang but bounces to the left branch of the drawing, which describes a contracting universe. High resolution version here.

Scientists believe our cosmos began in a sort of explosion called the Big Bang, when everything that exists—which just previously had been packed into one infinitely dense point—burst outward.

The universe is still expanding, according to this view, because it was born expanding.

According to some proposals, the Big Bang is a repeating cycle. Universes might expand, then shrink back to a point, then expand again. Thus the “bang” would be really more like a bounce.

The idea is appealing in some ways, but scientists have found it far from easy to test. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, a key basis for the Big Bang theory, is silent on what happened before that event.

“General relativity can be used to describe the universe back to a point at which matter becomes so dense that its equations don’t hold up,” said Abhay Ashtekar, director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at Penn State University in University Park, Penn.

To go further, physicists must use tools Einstein didn’t have, he added. Ashtekar and two post-doctoral researchers developed such tools through a combination of quantum physics—the science of subatomic particles—and general relativity, which describes the large-scale structure of space and time.

They found that before the Big Bang, there was a contracting universe. Other than the fact that it was shrinking, they added, it was similar to ours in terms of the geometry of its space and time, or spacetime, as cosmologists call it since Einstein found the two are interwoven.

“In place of a classical Big Bang there is in fact a quantum bounce,” said Ashtekar. “We were so surprised by the finding,” he added, that the team repeated the calculations for months to include different different possible values of some numbers representing the current universe. But the results kept pointing to a bounce.

The findings appear in the current issue of the research journal Physical Review Letters.

While the general idea of another, pre-Big Bang universe isn’t new, Ashtekar said, this is the first mathematical study that systematically establishes its existence and deduces properties of its spacetime geometry.

The notion that spacetime has a geometry involves the idea that it can be curved or flat. A “flat” spacetime is one in which geometry works as we normally expect; for example, parallel lines never meet. But Einstein found that material objects deform this flatness, introducing curvature.

To arrive at their pre-existing universe finding, Ashtekar’s group used loop quantum gravity, a theory that seeks to reconcile General Relativity with quantum physics. These two seemingly fundamental theories are otherwise contradictory in some ways.

Loop quantum gravity, which was pioneered at Ashtekar’s institute, proposes that spacetime has a discrete “atomic” structure, as opposed to being a continuous sheet, as Einstein, along with most us, assumed.

In loop quantum gravity, space is thought of as woven from one-dimensional “threads.” The continuum picture remains mostly valid as an approximation. But near the Big Bang, this fabric is violently torn so that its discrete, or quantum, nature becomes important. One outcome of this is that gravity becomes repulsive instead of attractive, Ashtekar argued; the result is the Big Bounce